Archive for Wednesday, December 19, 2007

BCPD arrest another sexual predator

December 19, 2007

For the second time in a month, the Baldwin City Police Department has arrested an alleged online sexual predator.

Police Chief Mike McKenna announced Tuesday that his officers, with the help of Johnson County Sheriff's officers, arrested the 45-year-old Missouri man in the parking lot of the Great Mall of the Great Plains at 12:30 p.m. last Thursday. It was the culmination of a weeks-long investigation.

McKenna declined to give too many details of the investigation, but noted that this arrest involved a man who has been arrested and charged with similar offenses in several states, including California and Arkansas.

"This is a big catch," McKenna said. "I believe it shows what we're doing is working. We've received congratulations from all over the country saying Baldwin City is kicking butt, serious butt.

"We spent a number of weeks on this case," he said. "All of the officers were involved. I can't say enough about our people and the Johnson County people. All of our work brought this man off the streets and into jail. You just can't believe some of the things he says and does. It just makes you wonder about what these kids are saying online."

Thursday's arrest only started events that would unfold with the man.

"We've been talking to him for several weeks," said McKenna. "He's an interstate truck driver. He agreed to meet us at the Great Mall of the Great Plains in Olathe. He's got a GPS in his truck and couldn't get too far from I-35 because his employers would know where he was at.

"With the assistance of Johnson County officers, we arrested him in the parking lot in front of the theatre for electronic solicitation of a minor," he said. "We interviewed him at the Johnson County Sheriff's office and when it became obvious to him that he was going to jail and not a motel room, he became ill."

The man was taken to the Olathe Medical Center for overnight observation and was given a clean bill of health, he said. Baldwin City officers transported him to Douglas County Jail on Saturday and his bond was set at $200,000, he said. He made his first court appearance Monday and was charged with enticement of a child. His second appearance in Douglas County District Court was Wednesday where a 2 p.m. Jan. 2 preliminary hearing was set.

Although it was a "bigger catch" than the Nov. 2 arrest of a Carbondale man in Baldwin City on similar charges, the investigation was much the same with officers posing as underage girls.

"Yes, it was much the same - e-mail conversations basically with an underage girl," said McKenna.

The Nov. 2 arrest was the first in Douglas County involving electronic solicitation. That 38-year-old man is scheduled for trial Feb. 19. He remains jailed on $80,000 bond. McKenna declined to comment on the reason the Missouri man's bond is so much higher.

The Signal does not use names of people charged with sex crimes until conviction.

McKenna also said his officers worked with Johnson County Sheriff's officers instead of Olathe police because the sheriff's department has a cyber crime unit such as Baldwin City, while Olathe doesn't. Olathe police were aware of the investigation.

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